It's back-to-school time, and for many people that means back-to-violin-lessons.
Very often, summer represents a break from routine for students, as they take vacations, enjoy time off from classes and explore other interests. Even those who attend summer music programs may feel a disruption in their routine. It might be a positive disruption that involves intense study and progress, but it can be followed by a let-down upon arriving back in the "real world," which doesn't support that intensity in quite the same way.
Setting up (or returning to) a productive practice routine for the school year is one of the most crucial things you can do for your (or your student's) playing. Why? Because progress on the violin thrives on routine.
Whatever your level, whatever your goals, the best formula for steady progress and solid skill-building is quite simple: daily practice. But it will not happen without planning, discipline and persistence. Every day means every day, no exceptions.
The good news is that the start of the school year is a perfect time to work practice into your schedule, along with all those other routines that will come with the season. Here's how to do it: Form a habit. It takes 21 days to form a habit, but these have to be days in a row. If you miss a day, you have to start again. So practice (or motivate your child to practice) for 21 straight days, and after that, you will actually have a habit formed. You will find that you are compelled by the habit to practice, and if you are a parent, you will find yourself arguing much, much less. (Every day, parents, is much easier in the long run than "some days.")
Of course, after those 21 days you still have to make yourself (or your student) practice, but it becomes easier, the longer you feed the habit. The side-effect is that you start playing very well. When you're playing well, it's fun to practice. And the longer your "practice streak" becomes, the less you want to break it. Twenty-one days becomes a month, a month becomes two, then maybe you want to reach six months, or a year! It's a very virtuous circle. I've met students who went for years, practicing every day.
So make your resolution now, while your routine is taking shape for the fall. Make daily practice a part of that routine!
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